Penn Notes

The Bulldogs fell to the Penn Quakers on Saturday in a 17-27 contest dropping to 3-3 on the season and 1-2 in the Ivy League. Harvard’s loss over the weekend improved the odds for a team winning the Ivy League Championship with a 5-2 record but the next four games for Yale will all be tough contests.

The offense was able to piece together two complete drives in the first half yet struggled to gain yardage behind an injury plagued offensive line. Grooms was constantly flustered by pressure and was only able to complete 58.3% of his passes for 121 yards and 2 TDs. An ugly interception and two overthrown deep balls to open receivers killed any momentum that Yale had attained. The offensive line was manhandled, allowing 4 sacks and failing to open rushing lanes. Aside from a 44-yard run by Grooms and a 14-yard run by Lindley, the rushing attack failed to produce results despite hard running from Pitsenberger, Peterson and Alston. Lindley, Tipton and Nenad were bright spots for the offense combining for 10 receptions for 96 yards. Like last season’s loss to Penn, the offensive play calling in the second half could not have been worse. For instance, the Quakers had a drive stalled in the 3rd quarter after a bad snap and then had a disastrous punt for just 18 yards. Yale began the drive at the Penn 45-yard line but was quickly forced to punt following two runs up the middle and a deep incompletion to Nenad on 3rd and 4. The Dartmouth contest should have been a clear warning sign that the overreliance on big plays would come back to bite Yale, yet due to ignorance or arrogance, the coaching staff continues to gamble with low probability plays instead of simply trying to move the chains and control the clock.

As poor as the offensive performance and coaching were in the contest, the defensive woes were on a whole different level. Penn’s QB Aidan Sayin had his way with the Yale secondary completing 33 passes for 364 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions. The lack of a pass rush was an embarrassment as Sayin had a carefree afternoon in the pocket with ample time to find open receivers. Freshman RB Malachi Hosley effortlessly ran through arm tackles from the Bulldogs to rack up 86 rushing yards or 4.3 yards per carry and a touchdown. Yale had no answers for Penn’s WR Jared Richardson who set an all-time Penn record with 17 receptions for 191 yards and a touchdown. The coaches failed to make any meaningful adjustments to limit Richardson despite accounting for over half of Penn’s completions. On the off chance that Richardson was covered, Sayin had no issues finding other receivers such as Casilli open with no Yale defender nearby. Instead of getting creative with an endless possibility of blitzes, stunts and coverages, the defensive coaches refused to stray from the base zone packages that have failed to limit opposing offenses this season. Brown, Princeton and Harvard all possess more potent offenses than we faced against Penn, so drastic changes must be implemented in a hurry.

Bosman was 2 of 2 on PATs and nailed a 23-yard field goal in the 4th quarter. The windy conditions made punting difficult and Bosman averaged just 30.7 yards per punt in the contest. Felton had a solid showing at kick returner with 2 kickoff returns for 56 yards.

Ivy Standings

Dartmouth 2-1

Princeton 2-1

Harvard 2-1

Penn 2-1

Cornell 2-1

Brown 1-2

Yale 1-2

Columbia 0-3


Yale 17 Penn 27


Yale 31 Sacred Heart 3


Yale 45 Morgan State 3


Yale 21 Cornell 23


Yale 24 Holy Cross 49


3.5 Weeks Out

The Bulldogs open the season in under four weeks squaring off against an imposing Holy Cross team. It seemed as though Reno intentionally showed caution in the contest last season as he rotated in many players at key positions to limit injuries. You can’t argue with the results considering how the team continued to ramp up performance week over week on the path to an outright title. Yale was overwhelmingly favored in the recent preseason Ivy poll but depth will always remain an issue across the Ancient Eight.

Reigning Ivy League MVP Nolan Grooms returns at QB for his final season at the helm. Grooms made giant leaps in the passing game last season to complement his dominating rushing attack. He still has room for improvement in faster recognition and tighter ball security but no player in the league possesses his instincts in the open field. 

The backfield should be a special one for Yale with Pitsenberger returning after claiming the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and Peterson coming off a season in which he was third in the league in rushing. To round out the trio is Alston who was dominating in the last action seen from him. How Reno and Seitu Smith manage to balance the talent at this position will be a major storyline this season. With three starting caliber backs and a true dual threat QB in Grooms, expect a lot of rushing yards in 2023!

The wide receivers and tight ends for the Bulldogs will make life difficult for defenders focused on shutting down the rushing attack. Tipton, Nenad, Pantelis, Lindley and Shipp all return at WR with starting experience. Tipton has been one of the most electrifying athletes on the squad since he stepped foot on campus. He’s been the go-to deep threat for years but can also turn short screens into long touchdowns. Nenad is the prototypical wide receiver with the size, speed, and hands to become a QB’s favorite target. Pantelis is another physical specimen that the offense really leaned on last season in the short passing game. Lindley is a sharp route runner with exceptional quickness while Shipp is a well-rounded, explosive receiver. 

Hawes was a 2nd Team All-Ivy TE a year ago and is a clutch playmaker. The Grooms to Hawes TD pass in the 4th quarter of the Harvard contest could be the top highlight from the championship run. Yates was a pleasant surprise last season after transferring to Yale giving the Bulldogs a fierce double TE set. The sky is the limits for the skill position players offensively, but the pressure as always will be on the offensive line.

Replacing Gargiulo is the most pressing issue heading into the schedule. Luckily the Eli’s return 1st Team All-Ivy selection Amegadije at LT and the gargantuan Mendoza at RT. Karhu returns at RG and Session filled in solidly for Mendoza at tackle late in the season, so should be a top contender at LG. Sullivan appeared in 8 games as a freshman and could contend for a spot on the inside. Durand may have the inside track on the center position filling in for Gargiulo at times last season. Hopefully Grooms and his new starting center will be on the same page with shotgun snaps as the early season snapping issues last year were headscratchers. The lack of depth along the front is a cause for concern but on paper, this should be one of the top units in the league.

The defense is every bit as star studded as the offense. Patterson, Gulley, and Egodogbare wreaked havoc on offensive linemen in 2022. Patterson has the strength and speed to dominate on the inside or outside. He was the clear MVP for Yale in the 2021 season but seemed to be overshadowed by the productivity of Nickerson and Oso when schemed against in 2022. Gulley is stout at the point of attack while Egodogbare looked like a seasoned veteran at defensive tackle as a freshman before suffering a serious injury. McDonough is a likely starter at DE and showed serious potential last season and in the spring. 

All three starting LBs from a year ago return. Moore was the heart of the defense en route to 2nd Team All-Ivy honors. Vaughn got progressively better as the season went on and delivered crushing blows on the Tigers and Cantabs. Durojaiye is a great defender in space that always seems to be in on the action. Schaffer made a few excellent plays last season and should figure into the mix at ILB.  

The loss of Ellis and Oldacre at safety is massive but Yale appears to have enough talent to shore up the secondary. Captain DB Wande Owens was a 1st team All-Ivy CB and led the team with 63 tackles. Hickey was a day one contributor that is returning for a fifth season after suffering a season-ending injury in 2022. Guyton stepped up when Hickey was injured and became a major contributor to the success. Gonzales has the potential to be a shutdown corner playing on an island with continued elevation of his game. Benn made game saving plays with forced fumbles and interceptions at critical moments but will need to make another leap to prove that he’s an every-down safety.

Continuing with the trend, Bosman returns as both kicker and punter while Felton returns at KR and Lindley returns as PR. This could be the top roster that Reno has ever assembled.

Chris Ostrowsky takes over the Offensive Coordinator position after serving as Pass Game Coordinator and Wide Receivers Coach in 2022. Ostrowsky has an impressive resume leading high-flying offenses at Northern Michigan as Head Coach and Central Michigan as Offensive Coordinator. McGowan and Jay Anderson will be Co-Defensive Coordinators. Tim Janecek will coach the defensive linemen after a lengthy stint at the successful DIII program North Central College. David Josephson joined the Bulldogs as TE Coach after three seasons of serving as the Offensive Coordinator at Johns Hopkins. Reno added Marcus Knight as Wide Receivers Coach after two years coaching at Ball State. Stefon Wheeler, Offensive Line Coach, is another new addition to the staff joining the Elis after four seasons coaching the O-line at Rhode Island. The level of coaching turnover is not a positive sign, however, the new coaches have ample amounts of talent to make the transitions seamless. Reno will need to drown out the SEC noise as his son, Dante, will be suiting up for the South Carolina Gamecocks along with Gargiulo. Interestingly enough, former Head Coach Tom Williams also has a son that will also be joining a storied D1 program as his son, Tre Williams, will be playing OLB at Stanford.

Much more to follow in the coming weeks.


Official Recruiting List

Cooper Austin, 6’2″, 280 lbs., DL, Loomis Chaffee/Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh, PA)

Zavier Avera, 6’5″, 270 lbs., OL, Jones (Orlando, FL)

Joseph Barry, 6’3″, 220 lbs., LB, Bergen Catholic (Saddle River, NJ)

Kevin Cassidy, 6’6″, 285 lbs., OL, Mountainside (Beaverton, OR)

James Cave, 6’6″, 240 lbs., DL, Parish Episcopal (Dallas, TX)

Osize Daniyan, 6’2″, 175 lbs., DB, Mt. Juliet (Mt. Juliet, TN)

Dylan Darville, 6’1″, 180 lbs., DB, Emmaus (Macungie, PA)

Garon Duncan, 6’1″, 195 lbs., WR, Dripping Springs (Driftwood, TX)

Babawale Fadeyibi, 6’3″, 255 lbs., DL, Blair Academy (Blairstown, NJ)

Joey Fortner, 6’2″, 215 lbs., LS, Marist (Tinley Park, IL)

Dylan Garrity, 6’4″, 245 lbs., OL, Bergen Catholic (Old Tappan, NJ)

Phoenix Grant, 6’2″, 185 lbs., DB, Gunter (Sherman, TX)

Zairion Jackson-Bass, 6’3″, 235 lbs., DL, Julius L. Chambers (Charlotte, NC)

Brice June, 6’3″, 190 lbs., WR, Maret (Potomac, MD)

Abu Kamara, 6’1″, 190 lbs., DB, Interboro (Prospect Park, PA)

John Kemp, 5’11”, 180 lbs., DB, St. Ignatius (Chicago, IL)

Quinton Lewis, 6’4″, 290 lbs., OL, Northside (Warner Robins, GA)

Donovan McKoy, 6’5″, 210 lbs., WR, St. Joseph Regional (Englewood Cliffs, NJ)

Spencer Mermans, 6’6″, 245 lbs., DL, Charlotte Country Day (Charlotte, NC)

Jesse Schutzman, 6’2″, 220 lbs., LB, Brunswick (Norwalk, CT)

Graham Smith, 6’5″, 220 lbs., TE, Lyons Township (Western Springs, IL)

Jackson St. Aubyn, 6’5″, 284 lbs., OL, Palmer Ridge (Colorado Springs, CO)

Jaylin Tate, 6’4″, 245 lbs., DL, Woodward Academy (Atlanta, GA)

Robby Tattersall, 6’5″, 205 lbs., TE, Wilmington Friends (Wilmington, DE)

Aidan Warner, 6’3″, 205 lbs., QB, Winter Park (Winter Park, FL)

Brandon Webster, 6’0″, 180 lbs., DB, St. Ignatius (Cleveland, OH)

Lukas Witt, 6’5″, 285 lbs., OL, Cheshire Academy/Norris (Stuttgart, Germany)


Spring Game Notes

We caught our first glimpse of the 2023 squad on Saturday in the Bowl on an overcast windy day in New Haven. Attendance seemed to be higher than in previous years likely due to senior parents in attendance to watch the ring ceremony.

Reno aired on the side of caution sitting or limiting many of the familiar names on the roster. Those who did not suit up included Mendoza, Patterson, Egodogbare, Pantelis, Nenad, Shipp, Hawes, and Sullivan. Benn, Guyton and Peterson were suited up but did not see action. Grooms and Alston played only the first series, while Pitsenberger was only seen on a handful of special teams plays. Spring games under Siedlecki and Williams were far more entertaining, but we prefer Reno’s approach to keep the team healthy heading into the summer offseason.

With Mendoza out of the lineup, the starters along the offensive line were Amegadijie, Anderson, Durand, Karhu and Session from left to right. Yates started at tight end with Hawes out and the starting wide receiver corps featured Tipton (in red non-contact jersey), Lindley, and Brunelle. Grooms and Alston started at QB and RB respectively. The starting offense marched effortlessly down the field for a score led by two big runs from Alston (including the TD scamper) and a nice completion on a crossing pattern to Lindley.

The starting defense was very young with only a handful of major contributors from 2022 appearing in the exhibition. McDonough and Ezekiel Larry started at defensive end with Gulley and #98 (Yang or Ugbaja?) at defensive tackle. The starting linebackers were #7 (Biggs?), #40 (Shaffer or Warncke?), and Melik Williams. Gonzales and Barnes were at the cornerback positions and #32 and #35 (Haaland?) were at the safety positions.

Pass coverage was poor early on but improved as the day went on. McDonough and Yang both had sacks yet the defensive play of the day came on a big hit from #37 (Joseph Gonzales?) who dislodged a completion to Thompson. #30 (Michalik?) also had a terrific play stripping Eboboko on a running play.

The stars on offense were WR CJ Thompson and RB Wilhelm Dahl. Thompson was by far the most active member of the receiving corps and held onto a ball in the first half despite a crushing hit. Thompson had a long reception called back in the 2nd half and later beat Gonzales on a deep route but the pass from Grant Jordan was off the mark. Dahl showed great vision and cutting abilities and could factor into the kickoff return game alongside Felton.

Bosman still appears to be ahead of the competition in the kicking and punting schemes. Bosman nearly connected on a 50-yard field goal in the wind that hit the goalpost.

The defensive end and safety positions are still the largest uncertainties heading into the fall. If McDonough and Larry are to be the primary contributors at the defensive end slot, they will both need to continue to bulk up to square off against much larger offensive tackles. Beyond Benn, there is no safety with ample experience, so Reno could opt to shift an experienced corner to safety or let the youngsters such as Haaland, #32, Di Ienno and Joseph Gonzales battle it out for the top spot.


Spring Ramblings

Despite losing the top offensive lineman to graduation, next year’s offensive line seems to be coming together nicely this spring with a projected lineup of Mendoza, Karhu, Durand, Session and Amegadjie from right to left. Durand is the only projected starter who did not start a contest in 2022, however, he did fill in at a critical time when Gargiulo was briefly injured. Session was a more than capable backup to Mendoza last year at tackle and his move to guard this year will likely be a smooth transition once he adjusts his techniques to interior play. Sullivan was injured prior to the start of the season last year but appeared in 8 contests as a freshman and could challenge for a starting role.

The return of Spencer Alston provides Yale with an embarrassment of riches at the running back position. The challenge will not be getting our backs to perform, it will be finding the right mix of Alston, Pitsenberger, and Peterson to stay as effective as possible without disrupting the flow of the run game that was established in 2022.

On the topic of running backs, Princeton’s star freshman running back Ryan Butler has transferred to Stanford. While Butler will have the opportunity to earn a degree almost as coveted as a Princeton degree, it’s a risky proposition for increased exposure given the competing talent that Stanford can attract as well as his style of play that was reliant on his sheer power to break tackles. It’s an entirely different equation to break a tackle from an Oregon defensive end versus a Cornell defensive end.


9/16 Yale vs. Holy Cross

9/23 Yale vs. Cornell

9/30 Yale vs. Morgan State

10/7 Yale at Dartmouth

10/14 Yale vs. Sacred Heart

10/21 Yale vs. Penn

10/28 Yale vs Columbia

11/4 Yale at Brown

11/11 Yale at Princeton

11/18 Yale vs. Harvard

It’s a shame that we could not secure UCONN for another in-state matchup as many have noted that the game day experience at UCONN had more energy than the vast majority of our contests over the last two years. We won’t complain loudly about having SEVEN home games though!